Friday, July 12, 2013

Permission to Be Beautiful

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.”

– Miss Piggy, The Muppets

While I start my morning ritual of scrambling eggs and blending our smoothies, my toddler daughter starts her own morning routine.  After at least 12 hours of beauty sleep (which is God’s gift to both of us!), she wakes up, finds her necklaces and shoes, and after adorning herself, she promptly grabs a baby doll or two, kisses them, and wheels them into the kitchen, snuggled up in their tiny pink stroller. 

When I’m rushing to get everyone out the door, making sure the boys have taken that last fateful trip to the bathroom, counting the number of diapers I have packed, and making sure I remember to look in the mirror myself, she’s waiting patiently to get her hair done.  She sits up straight and still, and always wants to look in the mirror when her styling is complete.


My husband and I laugh.  If you know me, you know how simple I am when it comes to my “routine.”  My hair is usually in a pony tail, and I have minimal makeup on, if any at all.  My only piece of jewelry that I sport 99% of the time is my wedding band.  So my pretty princess did not get her desire for all things pretty and shiny from me at all.

Her innate desire to be beautiful has caused me to sit back and wonder what God has written on her heart.  This was a deeper ponder than I wanted to have pondered.

Before my daughter entered into my life, I would have told you that beauty wasn’t important to me.  But now I can say that that would have been an ignorant, quickly dismissive statement.  Logically speaking, who doesn’t love to look at something beautiful?  Who doesn’t want to feel like they live in a beautiful place, or to vacation somewhere that they consider beautiful?  Who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of nature?  Who doesn’t notice a handsome man or a beautiful woman as they walk by?   We, by nature, appreciate beauty. 

Who doesn’t love a compliment?  Even in my hard-hearted days, a compliment made me feel alive inside, whether or not it showed outwardly.  And though we should not give other people’s opinions power over us, our emotions and our thinking, their words of encouragement tend to give us joy. 
Logically speaking, then, beauty is important to me.  I like beautiful things, and I love receiving an unexpected compliment.  Why then have I flippantly dismissed beauty for such a long time?
Well, my pondering has brought up many reasons.  And much (but not all) has to do with the way I grew up.  I didn’t have the mom figure telling me I was beautiful or guiding me through what I call “the awkward years.”  No one taught me how to dress for my figure, or do my hair and make up.  But arguably, many women, even with mothers, have that same absence in their lives. 

Some women take it upon themselves to learn, because they are honest with themselves that they desire to be beautiful.  No, not me.  I hid from it.  I saved all the insecurity of my awkward years in a box, right next to my 3 makeup items and hair appliances I rarely use.  And when I walk into the bathroom on a quest to look how I want to feel, instead of reaching for my mascara, I take out that box, sort through it while looking into the mirror, and walk out resigned to never be beautiful.

Now, I’m being totally honest here.  I have gone to enough teachings, enough small groups, and read enough books on what beauty is.  And I’m a firm believer that beauty does not define you.  It does not give you confidence.  It does not give you joy.  You know what it gives you?  Beauty.  It is, of itself, something to behold.  It is something created to celebrate.  And we are something created to celebrate. 

I watch my daughter adorn herself in the morning, and look at me with such joy.  I watch her older brothers finding her so adorable for acting so feminine.  And I wonder when and why I decided to not allow that freedom and that joy in my own life. 

I hid behind my intellect, reasoning that God looks at the heart, not the hair.  And that’s true!  Don’t get me wrong.  But my heart was not right.  Because instead of seeing myself as He sees me, I saw something different…something undesirable…something that wasn’t worth investing in.  And I hid behind the lies of busyness, and priorities, and excuses in order to not deal with my heart issues.

I hesitate to write all of this because it is difficult, especially for Christian women, to invest in themselves without feeling vain.  We don’t want to be that fleeting beauty, but we want that Proverbs 31 character.  While the Word says that God looks at the heart, He also looked at the beauty of His creation and saw that it was good. 

I think of all the times when my husband has paid me a compliment, and I’ve struggled so much because internally I’m thrilled but externally I roll my eyes and play it off.  I think of times when I get together with a friend and they tell me I look great and I begrudgingly say, Oh geeze, thanks, but I don’t feel great, completely not receiving that compliment.  And then I think of God looking at me, a created woman, and as He gazes on my, dare I say, beauty, He says that it is good.  Man, am I convicted. 

My beauty that He created is good.  I see that every time I watch my daughter twirl in a pretty dress, with her pigtails and necklaces.  She is beautiful and not vain.  She is beautiful and not proud.  She is beautiful and knows it, but does not chase after it.  I pray that she stays humble and confident, chasing after the eternal, but always knowing how precious and gorgeous she was made. 

So I decided to confide in a friend a few weeks ago about my quest for beauty.   And when I say friend, I mean the kind where you know that before you were born God just knew you were going to be friends forever kind of friend.  I confided in her because she has known me most of my life, knows all my secrets and insecurities as well as my strengths and confidences.  She is beautiful on the inside and out and knows how to make women feel the way they were created to feel.

We had a great conversation about how beauty is something that God made, and that is o.k. to want that.  I want my daughter to feel beautiful, but I think my heavenly Father probably wants that for me too.  I confided that I feared trying to look nice because I was afraid of what others would think…Oh, this is you trying to actually look nice?!   But through our conversation, I realized that I was perpetuating the same perversion of beauty that I logically tried to avoid.  I was placing my beauty in the context of other people and not my own. 

Here’s when the Miss Piggy quote comes in…I am beautiful.  And if others don’t agree, they probably just need a perspective adjustment.  I can list for you the things I don’t like about myself, but the power of life and death is in the tongue, and I want to appreciate who God made me inside and out.  While I know He looks at the heart, the way we perceive and fall out of gratitude for who He made us on the outside can start to make our hearts grow sick.  I am on a journey of health and wellness, and it includes healing my heart from years of insecurity and denial and embracing the way He knit me together uniquely and divinely. 

The Epilogue:

Here’s the fun part!

My very beautiful friend, who I confided in, asked me to meet her at her house last night for a surprise.  She’s a make up artist, and I had asked her to give me a few tips to update my look.  She did such an amazing job of accenting all the beauty in my face, teaching me little tips and tricks along the way.  After our make up session, she whisked me off to a beautiful salon to get a new cut and some styling tips from a really great hair stylist.  I felt as if there should have been cameras following us along on our journey!  I was living a real life make over totally steered solely by my very own friend.  She went out of her way to schedule time with me, which is no small task for a busy mom of three little boys!  She set everything up ahead of time, even sending my picture to the salon so that they could be ready with some ideas.  And when I walked out feeling fresh and new, we went out and laughed and had some great conversation.  It was a night I will never forget! 

I woke up this morning with my newly styled hair and makeup tips and took only about 10-15 minutes to put myself together.  Hmm, it’s not that difficult after all.  And I made myself a promise.  My friend thought I was beautiful and wanted to invest in me, and I want to steward that investment.  Instead of looking at my flaws, I’m going to enjoy the beauty God has given me.  So without further adieu, I proudly present you with an updated me...and it feels great!

I want my daughter to see the world through His eyes.  In a culture obsessed with looks, trends, and perfection, I know it will be a challenge to keep her eyes focused on what matters most at times. But I want her to see herself the way God sees her…the way her dad and I see her.  She is absolutely stunning.  She is amazing.  I treasure her beauty, and she has inspired me to treasure my own. 



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